Skip to main content

Why do malfunctioning institutions persist? A case study of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Abstract

While all neo-institutional approaches to varying degrees of success aim to explain institutional persistence, none of them offer clear-cut explanations for the persistence of institutions that have become completely undesirable. The present article aims to analyze how such cases of institutional ‘lock-in’ can be explained, and to what extent the theoretical premises of historical and rational choice institutionalism are helpful in this regard. It does so by means of a case study of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is a unique, trans-Atlantic institutional structure that was established in 1954, but has since its foundation become increasingly dysfunctional and disliked by all parties involved. The analysis reveals that the survival of the Kingdom can be seen as an instance of extreme path-dependence, but also that rationalist notions of Pareto optimality and veto-players can contribute to explaining the persistence of this institution. Most conspicuously, however, the analysis reveals that the unique political structure of the Kingdom, constituting a hybrid between a federal and a unitary state, has prevented any attempts to reform the institutional structure.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Alexander, G. (2001) Institutions, path-dependence, and democratic consolidation. Journal of Theoretical Politics 13(3): 249–270.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Archer, M. (1995) Realist Social Theory: The Morphogenetic Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  3. Baldacchino, G. (2006) Managing the Hinterland beyond: Two ideal-type strategies of economic development for small island territories. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 47(1): 45–60.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Barnett, M., & Finnemore, M. (1999) The politics, power, and pathologies of international organizations. International Organization 53(4): 699–732.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Broekhuijse, I. (2012) De gelijkwaardigheid van de landen van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden: Realiteit of Perceptie?. Utrecht: Wolf Legal Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Campbell, J. (2004) Institutional Change and Globalization. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Cleaver, F. (2002) Reinventing institutions: Bricolage and the social embeddedness of nature resource management. European Journal of Development Research 14(2): 11–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Clegg, P., & Gold, P. (2012) The UK overseas territories: A decade of progress and prosperity? In P. Clegg & D. Killingray (Eds.), The Non-Independent Territories of the Caribbean and Pacific: Continuity or Change?. London: Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Collier, R., & Collier, D. (1991) Shaping the Political Arena: Critical Junctures, the Labor Movement, and Regime Dynamics in Latin America. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. De Jong, L. (2009) The implosion of the Netherlands Antilles. In P. Clegg & E. Pantojas-García (Eds.), Governance in the Non-Independent Caribbean. Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  11. De Jong, L., & Van der Veer, R. (2012) Reformation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: What are the stakes? In P. Clegg & D. Killingray (Eds.), The Non-Independent Territories of the Caribbean and Pacific: Continuity or Change?. London: Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Duijf, C., & Soons, A. (2011) The Right to Self-Determination and the Dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles. Nijmegen: Wolf Legal Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Elazar, D. (1987) Exploring Federalism. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Gagnon, A.-G. (2001) Competing national visions: Canada-Quebec relations in a comparative perspective. In A.-G. Gagnon & J. Tully (Eds.), Multinational Democracies (pp. 257–274). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  15. Ginsburg, T. (2006) Locking in democracy: Constitutions, commitment, and international law. New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 38(4): 707–761.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Hall, P., & Taylor, R. (1996) Political science and the three new institutionalisms. Political Studies 44: 936–957.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Helmke, G., & Levitsky, S. (2004) Informal institutions and comparative politics: A research agenda. Perspectives on Politics 2(4): 725–740.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Hillebrink, S. (2008) The Right to Self-Determination and Post-Colonial Governance: The Case of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  19. Khalil, E. (2013) Lock-in institutions and efficiency. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 88: 27–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Liebowitz, S., & Margolis, S. (1995) Path-dependence, lock-in, and history. Journal of Law Economics and Organization 11(1): 205–226.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Mahoney, J. (2000) Path dependence in historical sociology. Theory and Society 29(4): 507–548.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. March, J., & Olsen, J. (1984) The new institutionalism: Organizational factors in political life. The American Political Science Review 78(3): 734–749.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. March, J., & Olsen, J. (2005) Elaborating the “New Institutionalism”. In R. A. W. Rhodes, S. Binder, & B. Rockman (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Political Institutions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Marsh, D. (2010) Stability and change: The last dualism? Critical Policy Studies 4(1): 86–101.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Nauta, O. (2011) Good Governance in ‘the West’. Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht.

    Google Scholar 

  26. North, D. C. (1990) Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  27. NTR Caribisch Netwerk, 24-03-2016. ‘Weinig Vertrouwen in Lokale Politiek, Veel Waarde aan Nederland.’

  28. Oostindie, G. (2006) Dependence and autonomy in sub-national island jurisdictions: The case of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Round Table 95(386): 609–626.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Oostindie, G., & Klinkers, I. (2003) Decolonising the Caribbean: Dutch Policies in a Comparative Perspective. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  30. Oostindie, G., & Klinkers, I. (2012) Gedeeld Koninkrijk. De ontmanteling van de Nederlandse Antillen en de vernieuwing van de trans-Atlantische Relaties. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Oostindie, G., & Verton, P. (1998) Ki Sorto di Reino/What Sort of Kingdom? Visies en Verwachtingen van Antillianen en Arubanen omtrent het Koninkrijk. Leiden: KITLV.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Peters, B. G. (2012) Institutional Theories in Political Science. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Peters, B. G., Pierre, J., & King, D. S. (2005) The politics of path dependency: Political conflict in historical institutionalism. The Journal of Politics 67(4): 1275–1300.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Pierson, P. (2000) Increasing returns, path dependence, and the study of politics. The American Political Science Review 94(2): 251–267.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Sedelmeier, U. (2012) Is Europeanisation through conditionality sustainable? Lock-in of institutional change after EU accession. West European Politics 35(1): 20–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Shepsle, K. (1989) Studying institutions. Some lessons from the rational choice approach. Journal of Theoretical Politics 1(2): 131–147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Shepsle, K., & Weingast, B. (1981) Structure-induced equilibrium and legislative choice. Public Choice 37: 503–519.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Stevens, R. M. (1977) Asymmetrical federalism: The Federal principle and the survival of the small republic. Publius: The Journal of Federalism 7(4): 177–203.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Streeck, W., & Thelen, K. (2005) Introduction. In W. Streeck & K. Thelen (Eds.), Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Telegraaf. (2015) ‘Meerderheid wil af van Antillen.’

  41. Thelen, K. (2000) Timing and temporality in the analysis of institutional evolution and change. Studies in American Political Development 14: 101–108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Trouw. (2008) Peiling: Helft Nederlanders wil af van Antillen.

  43. Tsebelis, G. (2002) Veto Players: How Political Institutions Work. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  44. Van Helsdingen, W. H. (1957) Het Statuut voor het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden: Wordingsgeschiedenis, Commentaar en Praktijk. Den Haag: Staatsdrukkerij- en uitgeverijbedrijf.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Veenendaal, W. (2015) The Dutch Caribbean municipalities in comparative perspective. Island Studies Journal 10(1): 15–30.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Veenendaal, W. (2016a) Smallness and status debates in overseas territories: Evidence from the Dutch Caribbean. Geopolitics 21(1): 148–170.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Veenendaal, W. (2016b) Eindrapport CCC-opinieonderzoek. Leiden: KITLV.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Watts, R. L. (1998) Federalism, federal political systems, and federations. Annual Review of Political Science 1: 117–137.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Zuber, C. (2011) Understanding the multinational game: Toward a theory of asymmetrical federalism. Comparative Political Studies 44(5): 546–571.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Wouter Veenendaal.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Veenendaal, W. Why do malfunctioning institutions persist? A case study of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Acta Polit 52, 64–84 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41269-016-0004-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • neo-institutionalism
  • Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • institutions
  • non-sovereignty
  • political reforms